California Science Center, Los Angeles

Date Posted: 2/9/2012

California Science Center

ETC Paradigm® system controls architectural and exhibit lighting at California Science Center

ETC lighting and control products are key to illuminating the diverse exhibits, offices and architecture in the California Science Center's new 165,000-square-foot Ecosystems wing, open to the public as of March 25, 2010. Nearly ten years in the making, the new permanent exhibit allows visitors to experience a blend of live animals and hands-on science experiments in eleven distinct ecosystems, each illustrating an ecological principle. The wing nearly doubles the exhibit space at the California Science Center and is expected to raise visits above the average annual attendance of 1.4 million that the facility had previously welcomed.

ETC's Unison Paradigm control system, Sensor®+ dimming, SmartSwitch™ relays, and Source Four® fixtures were all part of the lighting and control package for Ecosystems. The Paradigm system provides simultaneous control of all the architectural lighting in the public areas, including the central atrium, and the 60,000 square feet of new administrative offices, in addition to dry and wet exhibits and special-event elements such as a simulated flash-flood experience in the 2,500-square-foot Desert ecosystem.

The ETC system was specified by Gallegos Lighting (now a studio of Thorburn Associates Inc.) working in close collaboration with the Science Center; joint project-architects EHDD and ZGF; biome consultant CLR Design; and designers of the Science Museum of Minnesota. Karl Haas, ETC's Architectural Western Regional Manager, was Lead Project Designer on the installation while previously working for Gallegos Lighting Design. ETC's Los Angeles office is providing ongoing support and coordination of continued work with the Science Center.

An earlier version of the Unison controller had been initially specified for Ecosystems, but during the project's incubation period, the new ETC Unison Paradigm system became available. "We were able to switch to the new product in the heat of the project, with very few technical issues and no change of price," noted Haas. "Paradigm is a perfect fit for this type of project."

Paradigm was engineered to improve facility efficiencies across the board. As part of its green energy-management functionality, Paradigm performs building sweeps -- making certain that lights have not been inadvertently left on during unoccupied times. The intuitive color-coded LED button displays on the Unison controls allow multiple exhibit areas to be controlled via just a few strategically-placed stations. And Paradigm can also function as centralized control, accessing the lighting in any specific area of the exhibits as well as the upper office areas, with equal ease of programming and level setting.

Every controllable circuit in the expansion wing is operated by the Paradigm system, including ETC's Source Four lighting fixtures, which provide patterned effects and adjustable focus for the changing events in the three-story-high central atrium.

Gallegos Lighting made full use of Paradigm's versatility to accommodate the specific cycles and conditions of a project that blends technical sophistication with ecological sensitivity, while also meeting the needs of the Center's operations staff. "It's my company's specialty to integrate both the exhibit and the architectural, and I like the Paradigm for that," says Gallegos. "The system is extremely flexible and does a lot of things very well. Each exhibit here has its unique lighting needs. Paradigm allowed us to isolate and program each space individually, while at the same time set up the system to be easily maintained and adjusted by a small number of people at the facility."

Photo credit: Robert Canfield